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Grandfather Clocks Possess a Timeless Appeal

ALSO: * Aunt Jemima Dolls * Bretby Art Pottery


If you went to a furniture store and asked for a tall case clock, the clerk probably would be mystified. The name we use today, "grandfather clock," came into popularity about 1875.

The name was the result of the children's song "My Grandfather's Clock." The name saw limited use as early as 1835, but the American public didn't drop the name "tall case" or "long case" until later.

Tall clocks that stand on the floor were first made in England in the 1600s. The first American versions were made about 1680. The long case was needed to hide the long pendulum that swung back and forth to keep the hands moving.

Even though today's clockworks can be much smaller and no pendulum is needed, grandfather clocks remain popular.

Usually, the numerals on the clock help to date it. A clock made before 1900 usually had Roman numerals on the dial that were placed with the bottom of each numeral facing the center of the clock's face. The numbers are now placed with the bottom of each numeral facing the floor.


Q: My dad purchased two 9-inch black character dolls at an estate sale. They are made of soft plastic fabric filled with stuffing. They are marked "Wade and Diana."


A: Wade and Diana are the children of Aunt Jemima and her husband, Uncle Mose.

Aunt Jemima pancake flour was first made in the late 1880s, when the Aunt Jemima Manufacturing Co. was founded in St. Joseph, Mo. The R.T. Davis Milling Co. bought the flour recipe and the Aunt Jemima trademark in the early 1890s.

Davis made the first Aunt Jemima rag doll set in 1905. It included Aunt Jemima, Uncle Mose, Wade and Diana. Redesigned dolls were issued several times over the years, before and after the company was sold to Quaker Oats in 1926.

Your dolls date from about 1950. The doll set offered at the time was a premium available for $5 plus box tops. The dolls were mailed flat. The buyer stuffed them and sewed the bottoms to complete the dolls.

Each of your dolls is worth about $25.


Q: I purchased an 8-inch green pottery bowl and stand a few years ago. The bowl is marked "Bretby/England." I'm curious to know its background.


A: The Bretby mark was used by Tooth & Co., which established the Bretby Art Pottery in 1883. It operated in South Derbyshire, England.

The company used the word "England" in its mark from 1891 until the early 20th century.

Bretby art pottery is popular with collectors. A large bowl such as yours is worth more than $300.


Q: I've seen several hand-sized advertising blotters at flea markets. When were blotters used?


A: Ink blotters are made of soft, absorbent paper that's patted on writing paper to soak up excess ink from dip pens or fountain pens.

Joseph Parker & Son of New Haven, Conn., made the first modern blotting paper in the late 1850s. Blotters with advertising on the back started appearing in the United States about the time of the Centennial Exposition of 1876 in Philadelphia.

Insurance companies and banks were the first to print ads on the back of blotters. Other businesses, politicians and organizations soon followed.

The need for blotters faded when ballpoint pens came on the market in the late 1940s.


Q: Back in the 1970s I bought a brass belt buckle embossed with the crest of the Grand Army of the Republic and two American Indians, one scalping the other. The words "Indian Scout" are on the bottom. On the reverse is a mark that includes the words "Tiffany, Finest Minted Brass, AJ Nash, London, England." I'd like to know the age and value of the buckle.


A: You are one of many who have been fooled by brass belt buckles marked "Tiffany." They are all fakes made in the late 1960s and early '70s, probably in England. Many were sold in Deane & Adams, a London retail store.

The concocted buckles included a whole line of Wells Fargo, American Express, Ku Klux Klan, Mickey Mouse and Coca-Cola models. Some were marked "Tiffany"; others were marked "Gaylord." Today the fakes sell for about $10 each.

If you wish other information about antiques, include a self-addressed, stamped (55 cents) envelope, and the Kovels will send you a listing of helpful books and publications. Write to the Kovels, the Los Angeles Times, King Features Syndicate, 235 E. 45th St., New York, NY 10017.


Current Prices

Current prices are recorded from antiques shows, flea markets, sales and auctions throughout the United States. Prices vary in different locations because of local economic conditions.

* Record album, "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" soundtrack, Marilyn Monroe on cover, 1978: $50.

* Hires root beer store bottle, tin, multicolored, 1950s, 16 inches: $175.

* Dinky toy car, No. 157, red Jaguar: $165.

* Shirley Temple paper dolls, dolls and dresses, Saalfield, 1937, uncut: $220.

* Bicycle oil lamp, Mathews & Williams, bronze burner, 1897: $180.

* Pewter owl pitcher, incised design, ceramic blue eyes, impressed "Liberty & Co.," England, 8 by 6 1/2 inches: $375.

* Cut-glass compote, teardrop stem, six alternating hobstars with triangles of hobstars, crosshatching and fans, 24-point base, 10 inches: $425.

* Jennings slot machine, Little Duke, cast aluminum, 1 cent, 1935: $1,150.

* Ohr pottery candleholder, pinched ribbon handle, in-body twist, ribbed base, yellow, green and raspberry matte glaze, script mark, 6 1/2 inches: $1,400.

* Gustav Stickley armchairs, No. 360, quarter-sawn oak, red decal, leather, 37 by 27 by 18 3/4 inches, pair: $3,450.

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